- The Washington Times - Monday, February 6, 2012

The use of “restrictive paperless tickets” at sporting and entertainment events has resellers crying foul and pushing laws in several states to ban the new practice that has the support of the nation’s largest ticketing agencies.

“Every consumer should have the right to give it away, share it, or resell it,” said Jon Potter, founder of Fan Freedom, which advocates against restrictive paperless tickets.

Restrictive tickets are similar to airline tickets and prevent the original buyer from reselling them or even giving them as gifts.

Ticket resellers argue they are meeting an important market demand. Fans who miss out on the chance to buy tickets should get an opportunity to go to the game or concert, if they are willing to pay more.

“The marketplace will take care of itself in terms of whether the ticket prices get ramped up or not,” said Andrew Langer, president of the Institute for Liberty, which is also opposed to restrictive paperless tickets.

The option to resell also helps regular consumers who buy tickets with the intention to use them, but then can’t make the game or concert and decide to sell instead.

“If your plans change and you can’t go, you are out that money,” Mr. Potter said. “If your kids get sick, if your mother-in-law shows up for that weekend, if your babysitter’s car breaks down, or if your plans change because you have to go on a business trip, you’re stuck with tickets that you’re not permitted to even give to someone else.”

Those in the event industry see things differently.

Ticket agencies, such as Ticketmaster, and the venues themselves, say anti-scalping policies keep prices affordable for regular consumers who can’t pay the higher prices of the secondary ticket market.

“Paperless tickets help artists make some of their best seats available to fans at face value, not the sky high prices scalpers charge for the same tickets,” said Michael Marion, president of Fans First Coalition, which supports the event industry and opposes the term “restrictive” paperless tickets.

He pointed out that less than 1 percent of tickets are nontransferable as the system is still being integrated into the industry.

“Theyre often not right for all artists or even all tickets; however, artists, teams and venues should maintain the ability of selecting these methods when they want their fans to get a great ticket at a great price,” he said.

New York state already has a law that requires transferable tickets to be sold alongside nontransferable tickets. Other states, such as Florida and Minnesota, are considering laws that would ban the practice altogether.

The American Antitrust Institute has sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and several state attorneys general asking them to investigate the practice.

Ticket resellers complain these venues have a monopoly on the product that is not seen or allowed in other industries.

“You buy a car from a dealer,” Mr. Langer said. “Can you imagine if the dealer said you can’t sell this car, you can’t trade this car. If you want to sell it, you have to come back to our lot.”

They say venues are concerned with maintaining their profit, more so than providing cheap tickets to consumers.

“They want to stop what they see as the hemorrhaging of their bottom line,” Mr. Langer said. “It’s not like the Ticketmasters of the world are looking out for consumers in all this. They’re concerned about losing their profit.”

Mr. Potter agreed.

“They don’t want you making money off their tickets, and they don’t like you undercutting their prices,” he said. “They like having a monopoly.”



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